We walk up to one another, and exchange hugs. And then you say to me, “So how are you?” Nothing out of of the ordinary so far, EXCEPT that when you ask how I am, you use ‘sad voice.’ What is ‘sad voice?’ It’s when your voice changes and your tone indicates that you expect my answer to be negative. You sound like you already know what my answer will be and that my answer will be full of doom and gloom. If this were Winnie-the-Pooh, you sound like Eeyore. No cheer, a bit depressed, and definitely expecting the worst.
You might think that I am hearing things. That I am being oversensitive. But then, another friend walks up. You hug, and again you say, “So how are you?” And this time you sound upbeat, you are expecting a positive response. Returning to my Winnie-the-Pooh analogy you sound like Tigger.
Please stop using ‘sad voice’ with me. The expiration date on this ran out a few years ago. Actually, I NEVER liked it, but I understood that when the deaths of my loved ones were recent, MOST of you would speak to me in this way. And I understand that other people may find this special tone of voice reassuring.
But it has been almost five years. And while we may only see each other a few times each year, I do not understand why you still speak to me as if my life is some kind of tragedy. I have kept moving and growing, and I have been able to create a life that is full of love, and happiness and joy. Please join me in this space. I am happy to have your friendship.
I don’t know why you still speak to me in ‘sad voice.’ Sometimes I think that:
- Because you were busy when I went through my most difficult time, you are still trapped in that time period.
- You can’t imagine that someone can lose their family, and still have a happy life.
- You think that I am a lesser person, or that my life is less than, and that you pity me.
But ultimately, I realize that whatever drives you to speak to me in a different tone of voice comes from your own thoughts, beliefs and possibly fears. If I may, I would like to make some requests of you:
- Do not be afraid to tell me about the deaths or misfortunes of others. I want to be there for friends during the good times and the difficult times.
- Please do not ask me if attending funerals or memorial services is ‘triggering’ for me. Death is not easy for MOST of us. I have had the opportunity to develop a comfortable relationship with death. I consider it an honor to be able to support others in their grief.
- Do not pity me. Pity is condescending. If you secretly think you are better than me, that is your right. If this is the case I ask you to give some thought as to why you think you are better than me.
- Please do not assume my life is horrible because it is not. If you want to know what my life is like, ask. I am happy to share it with you.
- Please do feel free to speak to me as you do to your other friends.
It does occur to me that your use of ‘sad voice’ might just come from your own fears around losing the ones you love. That perhaps seeing me is a reminder, that one day the people you are closest to will die. If this is true, please feel free to share your fears with me.
If seeing me is too difficult for you, no worries. You will not be the first person who wishes me well from afar.
But, perhaps this is an opportunity for us to move forward together in our lives and in our friendship. Two people having ‘normal’ conversations in ‘normal’ voices. I hope so!